Influence of elevation and forest type on community assemblage and species distribution of shrews in the central and southern Appalachian mountains
We analyzed shrew community data from 398,832 pitfall trapnights at 303 sites across the upper Piedmont, Blue ridge, northern Ridge and Valley, southern Ride and Valley, Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Mountains and Plateau sections of the central and southern Appalachian Mountains from Alabama to Pennsylvania. The objectives of our research were to describe regional species distributions and to identify macro-environmental factors important to shrews at both the community and individual species scales. Our study documented the presence of nine species with a low of three in the southern Ridge and Valley section to a high of eight in the Blue ridge section were the Appalachian, Austral and Boreomontane fauna elements converge. Region-wide, shrew species richness was related to increasing elevation and was higher in mesic forest types than in xeric types. conformity to expected distribution of shrew body-size (small, medium, and large) appropriate for the central and southern Appalachian species pool showed no relationship to elevation gradients.